OTTAWA — Canada is set to detail what quarantine rules citizens and permanent residents who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will soon have to follow when entering the country.
Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair said last week that “measures” would be announced today that will apply to immunized Canadians, as well as foreign nationals who are permitted entry.
Currently, those without citizenship or resident status can enter the country only if their travel is related to work, school or other essential business, but not for leisure.
As more Canadians get inoculated against COVID-19 and summer weather has people itching to take some long-awaited trips, pressure is building for the Liberal government to begin relaxing some of its border and quarantine rules.
Over the weekend the country hit an important target of having 75 per cent of its eligible population receive one dose and 20 per cent get two, providing the latter group with full protection against COVID-19.
These were benchmarks Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and top health officials said needed to be met to safely relax pandemic-related health measures.
Those hoping to see some loosening this month were disappointed on Friday when the Liberal government announced its restrictions on non-essential international travel would remain in place at the Canada-U.S. border until July 21.
In the lead up to Monday’s announcement, the federal government spent the past week teasing at some of the travel changes it considered making for vaccinated Canadians and permanent residents.
Health Minister Patty Hajdu has said that starting in early July, the government looked to exempt fully vaccinated travellers from having to pay for a three-night stay at a government-approved hotel.
The sites are where Canadians entering the country by air, regardless of their vaccination status, must currently begin a 14-day quarantine while awaiting a negative result from a COVID-19 test required upon arrival.
Among the Canadians who recently went through the process was Trudeau himself, who’s currently in quarantine after spending five days in Europe attending international meetings with G7 and NATO leaders.
The prime minister said that in terms of being able to show border security some proof of vaccination, the country would rely on Canadians uploading images of their records to its ArriveCAN app, which is where returning travellers already have to share where they will stay for their 14 days of quarantine.
Both he and Hajdu say the country’s border rules would be relaxed in phases.
In particular, Hajdu has said the government intends those who are fully vaccinated to still be tested for COVID-19 before leaving for Canada and again on their return, where they would also need a plan for where to quarantine while awaiting a negative result.
An expert panel comprised mainly of doctors that studied Canada’s COVID-19 border measures recently recommended the government scrap hotel quarantines altogether for fully vaccinated travellers, provided they test negative for the virus and have proof they have been inoculated.
As for those with one dose, the doctors suggested travellers quarantine at home until receiving their negative COVID-19 test after having a swab done before departure.
And for those who haven’t been vaccinated at all, the panel said they should be allowed to leave quarantine if they test negative before departure, upon arrival and seven days into the full two-week self-isolation period.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 21, 2021.
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